Cebu News

Would pay p14.4b anytime, GMR-Megawide ready to work

AJ de la Torre - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The GMR-Megawide Consortium said it is ready, anytime, to turn over a P14.4-billion check to the Department of Transportation and Communication as payment for the public-private partnership project (PPP) for the expansion and upgrading of the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

After months of delay, DOTC the other day awarded the multi-billion project to GMR-Megawide, which held a thanksgiving mass at the Basilica del Sto. Niño yesterday.

After the mass consortium officials said that like what they have previously assured, they are ready with the check to be given to DOTC. They are also already preparing to start working on the airport.

Andrew Acuaah-Harrison, GMR deputy chief executive officer, said that under the concession agreement, they have six months to start managing the MCIA at the end of a 30-day period from the awarding of the contract.

He said they would introduce redevelopments and other changes of the existing airport once they start managing it.

Louie Ferrer, Megawide chief marketing officer, said they aim to start construction in the early part of 2015, as the terms of reference set that the new terminal should be delivered within 36 months.

Ferrer and Acuaah-Harrison said they have met with tourism, hospitality and airline sector representatives to discuss airport operations so they could holistically develop the MCIA.

In a text message to The FREEMAN Friday night, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya confirmed that they have awarded the project to GMR-Megawide Consortium, which has 20 days to pay the P14.4 billion.

Last Friday, the MCIAA Board passed a resolution authorizing Abaya to already issue the Notice of Award to the GMR-Megawide Consortium.  MCIA General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete, in an official statement, said the board decided to award the project to GMR-Megawide "upon review and lengthy deliberation, pursuant to and in accordance with the provisions, constraints and limitations under the BOT Law, BOT Law IRR, and the rules under the ITPB and ITB, and with the assurance that the project Concession Agreement (CA) already integrated safety net provisions protecting the government from any disadvantageous situations."

Yesterday, Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said the Cebuanos can now heave a sigh of relief following the awarding of the MCIA project.

"It's a boom to Cebu. I and the Cebuanos, are so relieved kay finally na-settle na gyod. So we can start na," she told The FREEMAN.

Magpale is hoping that the project can be executed as soon as possible to further boost the tourism in the province, adding that the country is expecting international events which Cebu would be hosting.

In particular, two international events are set to be held in Cebu-the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference next year and the International Eucharistic Congress in 2016.

Business leaders also hoped that no more cases would be filed in relation to the project so as not to further delay the airport expansion.

GMR-Megawide  was chosen despite a petition by  Senator Sergio Osmeña III requesting the Supreme Court to prevent Abaya, the MCIA Authority, the Prequalification, Bids and Awards Committee from further acting on GMR-Megawide's bid.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Philip Tan, though, hoped that the SC deny Osmeña's petition.

"Now, that would be critical. Mag-ampo na lang ta nga di mapasar aron makapadayon na ta (Let us pray that that it would not prosper so we could proceed already. Let's move on," he said.

Tan thanked DOTC for coming up with an action on controversial project without taking sides on any bidder of the project.

He said that the business community and the public in general are delighted with the good news since there won't be any hassle anymore in finally implementing the expansion project.

"We are equally protected with this public-private partnership project since we have nothing to lose given that the funds already available," Tan said.

Cebu Business Club president Gordon Alan Joseph echoed Tan's sentiment, expressing hope there would be nothing anymore to stop the project against.

"I wish everyone would respect the decision so Cebu and the Cebuanos will finally have a world-class gateway," he said.

 He also emphasized the need of Cebu for a new airport terminal and a world-class airport at present.

"It (airport expansion) is sorely needed. The current terminal is already over its capacity as everyone knows," Joseph said.

The Aquino administration's first airport PPP deal includes the construction of a new international passenger terminal that can process eight million passengers annually and the improvement of its existing terminals.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president  Ma. Teresa Chan likewise wished for urgent implementation of the MCIA expansion project now that the winning bidder has been declared.

The Freeman tried to get the side of Filinvest Land Inc., the second highest bidder of the airport expansion project, but was told that it cannot give any official statement for now. — Grace Melanie I. Lacamiento, Mechelle P. Florita/RHM (FREEMAN)

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